Know Your Stones: 30 Candy-Colored Gems
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30 Colorful Gems

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Blue Diamond

Photo: Getty Images

Crazy expensive

From: South Africa

Characteristics: hard, shimmery, scarce

Old blue eyes is among the rarest of all colored diamonds. “There’s only one significant source for them in the world — the Premier Mine in South Africa,” says Ward Landigran, CEO of Verdura. The stone made headlines in November 2014 when Bunny Mellon’s 9.75-carat version sold at auction for $32.6 million — shattering Sotheby’s high estimate of $15 million. For the other 99.99999 percent, there’s always the Smithsonian, which houses the Hope diamond.

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Spinel

Photo: Photo by Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine; gem courtesy of Greenwich Jewelers

Crazy expensive

From: Myanmar/Asia

Characteristics: hard, shimmery

No, it’s not a ruby, but the red spinel has long been confused for one; it’s spinels, not rubies, you see in the British crown jewels, and a 170-carat red spinel adorns the Imperial State Crown of England. There’s been a recent surge in demand for the hyper­pigmented stone — “When I started buying spinels in 1996, I could get them for as low as $300 a carat,” says James de Givenchy of Taffin. “Today, they’re more like $10,000.”

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Lightning Ridge Opal

Photo: Photo by Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine; gem courtesy of Joel Price Opals

Crazy expensive

From: Australia

Characteristics: scarce

When you think opal, subdued shades of white and green come to mind. But the Lightning Ridge, from Down Under, bears a kaleidoscopic swirl of reds, blues, purples, and yellows. “I love working with Lightning Ride opals because of their intense fire,” says jewelry designer Monica Rich Kosann. “In 2014, I built an entire collection of sea charms around them. They’ve finally caught on with the luxury consumer.”

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Paraiba Tourmaline

Photo: Photo by Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine; gem courtesy of Greenwich Jewelers

Crazy expensive

From: South America

Characteristics: scarce

Tourmalines come in many ­colors, but this Windex-blue variety is sourced from a mine in Brazil that’s now entirely stripped. Says David Rees, owner of Ten Thousand Things, “Years ago, at the Tucson gem show, we met a guy who looked like Indiana Jones and was holding bundles of Paraiba tourmaline. Today, finding true Paraiba tourmaline is the equivalent of finding a blue diamond.” Have a designer examine the stone to make sure there are no synthetic inclusions.

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Peach Sapphire

Photo: Photo by Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine; gem courtesy of Greenwich Jewelers

Crazy expensive

From: Sri Lanka

Characteristics: hard

These sapphires are gaining in popularity among more low-key consumers looking for a warm-colored stone. “People seem to be liking the color peach across different design fields,” says designer Caitlin Mociun. “I’ve done really well with my custom peach-sapphire pieces lately. And all of the sapphire dealers were showing me peach stones at the last Tucson gem show.”

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Mandarin Garnet

Photo: Photo and gem courtesy of James Alger Co.

Very expensive

From: Africa

Characteristics: shimmery

Mandarin is among the rarest of garnets. Hailing from northwest Namibia, this juicy variety gained traction in the gemstone trade about ten years ago, making it a newbie in the jewelry world. “I don’t know why they weren’t sought after in the past; they have the most unbelievable color,” says Sylvain Chervin of Carvin French Jewelers.

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Gray Diamond

Photo: Photo and gem courtesy of Diamond Envy

Very expensive

From: Africa

Characteristics: shimmery, hard

This milky, opaque diamond is harder to find than most colored ones — many gray diamonds are actually clear, with a slight metallic-blue tint — but it still costs a lot less than a white diamond. “Lately, we’ve had so many women ask for rings with a center gray diamond,” says jeweler Blanca Monrós Gómez. “They like its understated elegance.”

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Alexandrite

Photo: Photo by Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine; gem courtesy of Greenwich Jewelers

Very expensive

From: Russia/Brazil/Africa

Characteristics: scarce

Named after the Russian tsar Alexander II, alexandrite today appears in punky Anita Ko bracelets and Daniela Villegas scorpion rings. Since it displays both red and green tones, the colors of old Imperial Russia, it became the country’s national stone. “Alexandrite is best known for its color change,” says Ko. “In daylight it’s green; in the evening turns to a pinkish red.”

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Tanzanite

Photo: Photo by Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine; gem courtesy of Greenwich Jewelers

Very expensive

From: Africa

A deep-violet stone exclusively from Tanzania, tanzanite was discovered in 1967 near Mount Kilimanjaro. In 2002, the American Gem Trade Association chose tanzanite as a December birthstone, the first change to the birthstone list since 1912. Says jeweler Irene Neuwirth: “When I saw how it looked paired with opals and emeralds, I became obsessed.”

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Trapiche Emerald

Photo: Photo by Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine; gem courtesy of Melissa Joy Manning

Very expensive

From: South America

Characteristics: hard, scarce

What makes these Colombian emeralds, found deep in the Muzo and Penas Blancas mines of Colombia, so radiant is their spoked core that resembles the grinding wheel of a sugar mill. “We just got two trapiche emeralds at Tiffany, which was quite a coup for us,” says Melvyn Kirtley, chief gemologist at Tiffany & Co. “You never see them.”

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Demantoid

Photo: Photo by Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine; gem courtesy of Soho Gems

Very expensive

From: Africa/Russia

Characteristics: shimmery

These are some of the most expensive kinds of garnets — their extremely high refractive index means they emit more sparkle than a diamond. “Our customers often want something very high end and different; we like to show them the demantoid jewelry,” says Elizabeth von der Goltz, senior VP at Bergdorf Goodman.

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Rubellite

Photo: Getty Images

Very expensive

From: Brazil/USA/Russia

Unlike the red spinel, rubellite has a more ­saturated, peachy color. And while spinel — its sister stone — can cost upward of $10,000 per carat, rubellite goes for about $300 a carat. It’s a popular, conflict-free alternative to the politically fraught Burmese ruby (currently under embargo by the U.S. government).

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Watermelon Tourmaline

Photo: Photo by Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine; gem courtesy of Soho Gems

Very expensive

From: USA

Characteristics: spiritual

An amalgam of naturally green and pink tones — balancing both the heart and life-force chakras — this stone has been having a moment for the past few seasons among young designers like Erica Weiner, who loves its groovy history: Watermelon tourmaline was discovered in huge amounts in the early ’70s in Maine, where it became the state stone.

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Milky Way Turquoise

Photo: Gem courtesy of Melissa Joy Manning

Very expensive

From: USA

Characteristics: scarce

Most of the turquoise you see these days is a cookie-cutter shade of robin’s-egg blue. Milky Way, on the other hand, is shot through with rare shades of yellow, inky blues, and black. Just beware of fakes, notes designer Melissa Joy Manning, who suggests double-checking for webbing and matrix patterns, which are much harder to fake than color.

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Black Diamond

Photo: Photo and gem courtesy of Diamond Envy

Very expensive

From: Africa

Characteristics: shimmery, hard

Designers have reconsidered this moody stone in recent years, especially after Big gave Carrie one at the end of Sex and the City 2. Leigh Batnick Plessner, lead buyer at Catbird, says: “We love how sparkly and affordable black diamonds are. We’ll sell one-carat black diamond rings for $6,995; the exact same ring with a white diamond is $16,150.”

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Morganite 

Photo: Photo by Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine; gem courtesy of Soho Gems

Not so expensive

From: Brazil/USA

Characteristics: shimmery

Named after J.P. Morgan in 1911, this gem has benefited from the recent popularity of rose gold, which Soho Gems’ Irina Ferry says “brings out the stone’s natural pink tones,” ranging from salmon to violet pink. “It’s become really ­popular in the past year for budget-conscious engagement rings,” says Ferry.

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Druzy

Photo: Photo by Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine; gem courtesy of Melissa Joy Manning

Not so expensive

From; Brazil

Characteristics: shimmery

This stone has a glittering effect created by tiny crystals on top of a colorful mineral. Though they’re not as expensive as big faceted gemstones, druzys can easily be cut into various shapes. “I do pop-up jewelry shows all over Los Angeles, and druzys are everywhere,” says Tancie Trail, owner of e-shop Huntress New York. “They look unreal.”

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Labradorite

Photo: Photo by Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine; gem courtesy of Melissa Joy Manning

Not so expensive

From: Canada

Characteristics: spiritual

Labradorite’s many shades of iridescent blue naturally complement most gemstones. Legend has it that the Inuit people of Canada, where the stone originates, called it frozen fire. “I recently created a custom necklace for a client using aquamarine, opal, and emerald and wove in labradorite; it really enhanced the other colors,” says Lulu Frost owner Lisa Salzer.

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Moonstone

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Not so expensive

From: Sri Lanka

Characteristics: shimmery

Moonstone owes its name to the optical phenomenon of “adularescence,” which produces a glimmering effect. “In recent years, I’ve seen celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Garner, and Miranda Kerr all wearing moonstones,” says Laura Freedman, owner of the bicoastal Broken English. “They have this neutral, soft shimmer.”

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Blue Zircon

Photo: Photo by Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine; gem courtesy of Greenwich Jewelers

Not so expensive

From: Asia

Characteristics: shimmery

Of all the gems in the world, this one most closely resembles a diamond. But rest assured, it’s not the lab-grown imitation we know as cubic zirconia. “It’s a natural gem with great beauty and value,” says Jennifer Gandia of Greenwich Jewelers. “I love how the warmth of yellow gold ­contrasts with the rich, fiery blue-green hue of the gem.”

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Blue Topaz

Photo: Getty Images

Not so expensive

From: USA

Characteristics: shimmery

You may have seen this stone in your grandma’s jewelry drawer, but this old-school bling (also the state gem of Texas) is currently a top-selling colored stone in America. And if you want to turn a piece of heirloom topaz into something more modern, consider taking it to Irina Ferry at Soho Gem: “We can make it into a pendant to wear close to your heart.”

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Citrine

Photo: Photo by Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine; gem courtesy of Melissa Joy Manning

Not so expensive

From: Madagascar

Characteristics: hard

Though the name suggests a citrus shade, this stone is actually more golden than lemon. It’s a seven on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness (diamonds, a ten on the scale, are the hardest stones on Earth). Because citrine can handle everyday ­dinging but is a fraction of the cost of diamonds, it’s well-suited for a statement-making cocktail ring.

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Tiger’s-eye

Photo: Photo by Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine; gem courtesy of Melissa Joy Manning

Not so expensive

From: USA

Characteristics: spiritual

You may have noticed your neighbor with the man bun rocking tiger’s-eye cuff links lately. “A lot of men are drawn to tiger’s-eye,” notes Lisa Levine, owner of Maha Rose Center for Healing. “I think the stone reminds them of rock collections they had as little boys. Or maybe they have a little bit of Harry Potter in them.”

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Oregon Sunstone

Photo: Photo and gem courtesy of Rogue Gems, LLC

Not so expensive

From: USA

Characteristics: shimmery

The official state gemstone since 1987, the sunstone typically has an uneven red color distribution that creates an ombre effect of orange, copper, and Champagne. The stones are found in the Dust Devil and Sunset Butte mines, about five hours outside Portland. “Oregon sunstone is gaining in traction because of its U.S.-grown provenance,” says Weiner.

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Pyrite

Photo: Photo by Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine; gem courtesy of Melissa Joy Manning

Not so expensive

From: Peru/Spain/USA

Characteristics: shimmery

Once the stuff of your hippie aunt’s wrap bracelets, pyrite is being used in more futuristic ways lately (see Pamela Love’s recent collaboration with ­Swedish label Rodebjer). The mineral’s metallic luster and pale-brass color give it a superficial resemblance to gold, hence its nickname of “fool’s gold.” “The natural texture lends itself to edgier jewelry,” says Love.

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Rose Quartz

Photo: Photo by Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine; gem courtesy of Maha Rose Center for Healing

Crystal

From: USA

Characteristics: spiritual

Half of Greenpoint is carrying this so-called love stone in their pockets. As Levine explains it, “Rose quartz is the stone for anyone who’s nursing a broken heart or looking for love.” Or, if you’re Victoria Beckham, you ­supposedly use it backstage at fashion shows to feel ­balanced.

From $7 at Maha Rose Center for ­Healing; 718-757-2758.

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Herkimer Diamond

Photo: Photo by Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine; gem courtesy of Melissa Joy Manning

Crystal

From: USA

Characteristics: hard, spiritual

Known for clarity, hardness, and 18 facets — and found only in Herkimer County, New York — these crystals (not actual diamonds) are said to have strong energy (and vibrate when someone is being dishonest), perhaps because their source is so close. The hyper­local factor is a hit everywhere from healing centers to Barneys counters.

From $16 at Maha Rose Center for Healing.

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Smoky Quartz

Photo: Photo by Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine; gem courtesy of Maha Rose Center for Healing

Crystal

From: USA

Characteristics: spiritual

As New Yorkers seek more holistic ways to chill out, smoky quartz has gained appeal. “My clientele ranges from social workers to ­corporate execs to actors to designers,” says Krista ­Mitchell of Rock Whisperer NYC. “What they all have in common is anxiety — and my ­prescription is smoky quartz.”

From $3 at Namaste Bookshop; 212-645-0141.

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Clear Quartz

Photo: Photo by Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine; gem courtesy of Maha Rose Center for Healing

Crystal

From: USA

Characteristics: spiritual

“Clear quartz’s energy is like a laser beam,” says Mitchell. “It’s great if you need to focus.” It’s also a bit of a gateway stone, according to Levine: “It’s these young women who’ve done yoga and meditation and now are ready for next-level energetics.”

From $1 at Rock Star Crystals; 212-675-3065.

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Black Obsidian

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Crystal

From: Mexico

Characteristics: spiritual

On Game of Thrones, this stone is called “dragonglass.” In real life, new business owners use it to protect against harmful outside energy. Says Tancie Trail: “A friend just gave me a piece of black obsidian to celebrate the launch of my store in L.A. The idea was to attract positive people and experiences to my business.”

From $4 at Stick, Stone & Bone, 111 Christopher St., nr. Bedford St.; 212-807-7024.

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